“Recantations” — In Memory of Saint Thomas More, Executed July 6, 1535

July 6, 2016 in Beth von Staats (REVELATION), The Tudor Thomases, Tudor Y Writer's Group by Beth von Staats

by Beth von Staats

st-thomas-more-rubens-12x14-2052212 (1)

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Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

— Book of John 20:27, King James Bible —

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“I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Over twenty years ago, Sir Thomas More spoke those words for all to hear just before the executioner swung the ax, just before his head rolled from his shoulders onto the straw, just before his self-serving martyrdom. For months beyond a year holed up in The Tower, he stoically embraced his fate, faithfully hung to his God, stubbornly held firm in his convictions, and refused to see the truth, no matter how hard dearest Cromwell, Audley and I tried to convince him, no matter how much his wife and children begged he compromise his self-righteous scruples. In scripture, there is no Pope. There is no purgatory. There are no idols, relics, or indulgences. Mary is the mother of Jesus, not a saint interceding on behalf of all who pray to her. It’s really that simple. What is not written in God’s word is not truth. Why could More not see the obvious? Was he blind? Was he daft? Was he of Satan?

And why after 20 years does More’s sorry fate still weigh my conscience down like a stone?

“More was not satisfied to be Lord Chancellor, Your Grace. His heresy burnings were not enough to fill his soul. More yearned for a higher calling than service to the realm and His Majesty. He yearned to be a martyred saint. He yearned for pilgrims to travel long journeys to touch his hair shirt and gaze upon his pickled head, disgusting as that be.”

Dearest Cromwell, I hear him ringing through my mind as if he were sitting in this dank horrid cell right alongside me. The Earl always found a way to rationalize quandaries, bless his soul. All we asked, all His Majesty wanted, all that was required to save his very life was for Sir Thomas More to take the oath, say the words out loud publicly, and do what he wanted in private. More could worship his Latin Mass, give confession, fondle his rosary, collect his idols, venerate his relics, wear his hair shirt, and whip his back bloody to his heart’s content.

“Just take the damn oath, and then do what you will.”

“No, and I will speak nothing of it.”

Again, again, again, the Earl pleaded for this simple sign of obedience to the King. Again, again, again, the same reply. My God in heaven, the Pope is the antichrist. To this day, I am still dumbfounded. The man was brilliant, scholarly, eloquent. So why was he such a fool?

After hours of mulling over my fate, I look down at the parchment. My couched recantations, written to baffle His Eminence and the Queen without sully to my conscience, baffled them not. Cardinal Pole then took a quill to parchment and wrote out another, and then an another and yet another, one that clearly says to all in the far more eloquent words of the papal whore, “The last twenty years of my life were heresy. The liturgy of the Church of England is heresy. The lyrical Evensong at Friday service is heresy. The Collects said in worship all through the year are heresy. The Book of Common Prayer is heresy. Holy Communion as a commemoration to the Lord’s Last Supper is heresy. I recant. I recant it all. The Eucharist correctly turns wine to Christ’s blood, turns bread to Christ’s body. The holy church in England and its clergy are led by His Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome. Unless you purchase an indulgence, your mother will remain rotting to the bones in purgatory. There I said it. Now, you know my truth.”

Thomas Cranmer, Parish Church of St. George

Thomas Cranmer, Parish Church of St. George

If I want to live another day, die in my own bed, not burn pitifully as my beloved friends Ridley and Latimer, I must copy this in myne own hand, and sign my name to it. And, no, this is not the same challenge More faced. More was never forced to endure a trial for treason, found guilty, and yet a second trial for heresy, found guilty again. More did not have to debate at Oxford, over and over, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year with papist religious scholars wearing him down, chiding his every word. More did not have to watch his friends burn at the stake, poor Ridley lingering for hours due to a poor man’s misguided attempt to help. More did not have the entire Church of England and its future laying squarely on his shoulders. No, it is not the same challenge More faced. No, it is not.

If I say it enough, I might believe it.

I confess Sir Thomas More’s writings so authored while he himself imprisoned give me strength. A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation is just brilliant in all truth. Though they believed pushing More down my throat would wear me down, instead, his writings give me hope, nourish my soul. As More so correctly alluded through his story telling, persecution for one’s faith is a hazardous quandary indeed. It brings upon us at the same time both the lure and comfort rewarded for recantation — and the dread of torture and a painful death if we remain steadfast and true.

I look at the parchment yet again. No, I will not copy it in myne own hand. No, I will not sign it.

More conceded, and I agree, that it is not acceptable to escape persecution by compromising some of God’s truths, while keeping true to the rest. His err laid in not knowing what God’s truths truly are, by placing his faith and belief as defined by a papal authority instead of God’s word in scripture.

I look to the flickering candle, the only light in this stench laid cell and hold the parchment near. I will burn this parchment, and then I will burn. God, give me strength.

The cell door slams open, bashing the stone wall like a death knell.

“The recantation, is it ready Dr. Cranmer?!”

I startle upright. Damn, it be the Spaniard friar, Juan de Valligarcia, bellowing at me yet again. I look to the man wearily and hold out the parchment. He snatches it from me.

“No, I refuse to write it.”

This friar, I swear he is paid handsomely just to torment my soul. He saunters to the front of me and glares me down — evil incarnate, I do swear.

“I have word from Her Majesty. She desires I give you a message and one last chance to comply. Do you wish to hear it?”

I remain silent, mulling over how best to respond. The dirty dog drums his fingers impatiently on the table.

“Am I commanded to hear it? If not, I choose you leave with her words unsaid.”

“Yes, you are so commanded!”

“Carry on then.”

“As you so professed these many years, a monarch is supreme and heads the clergy is this realm. His Majesty King Henry chose to delegate to you and the heretic Emissary of Satan, Cromwell, while Her Majesty chooses to delegate to His Holy Father,” the friar scowls. He then holds out a parchment, its wax seal of the Queen made evident for myne benefit.

“Dr. Cranmer, as your monarch I command that you recant in writing as so drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and sign your name in full. I further command that you attend Latin Mass and recant publicly through a sermon approved in advance by His Eminence. From this day forward, you will attend Mass, celebrate the Eucharist, and worship the Roman Catholic faith with all humility.”

That bastard friar begins pacing to and fro. I say nothing. What be there to add to that?

“Will you abide Her Majesty’s command? If not, I need not remind that you will burn, mayhaps hanging in a giblet liken you and the concubine’s butcher did unto poor Friar Forest. The poor man be roasted hours on end like a chicken on a spit.”

Forest? He dares speak of the devil Forest?

I be in a rage now. “Forest’s burning fulfilled God’s prophecy! Saint Derfel burned with the forest as foretold from one to the next for many a moon — a suitable punishment for the evil Franciscan. He was both a sin-filled heretic and heinous treasoner of the King’s Majesty!”

I grab hold tight onto the table. Myne humors be in a twist, near to spew. The damn Spaniard steps up right close to me and leans into myne beard, so close his putrid rank breath near makes me faint.

“Cranmer, you are a hopeless, spineless, wretched, evil little man. God forgive you.”

My gout raging in my legs, I steady myself by the table, push him back and stand strong. What there be to lose? I am already a dead man. “No, I will not abide the damn command. Leave me to rot and be gone. You can light the fags another day.”

“But Dr. Cranmer, Her Majesty is supremely your head as you define by scripture, eh? Are you not by your own interpretation of God’s Holy Word sinning through your treason?”

The man, he is of Satan and chides me mockingly, finding my greatest weakness yet again. This very issue, this very dilemma, has me confused and conflicted once more. This pitiful servant of the antichrist is right, but in my heart to recant is a larger sin, an unforgivable sin.

“I said, NO, I will not abide by the damn command.”

Unsteady of feet, I sit back down.

“Dr. Cranmer, Her Majesty in her great benevolence wishes to extend this offer. Queen Mary, Regina remains steadfast in her vision to route this realm of all heresy, and will burn it all wherever it lays. Her Majesty desires to reassure you that should you recant, your Lutheran whore and bastard children will sleep safe. If not, they will burn as the heretics they are  — before you, as Ridley and Latimer did.”

Did myne heart just stop? Frozen in fear, I look at the Spanish friar, my blood frozen cold, just like that. Satan speaks through him as sure as Christ died for his sins. Mary, Regina — no one could be this evil, no one, especially a woman. De Villagarcia is trying to trick me. He must be. Margarete, my children, they fled to Nuremburg. Edmund promised me.

Aye, but Satan reached Tyndale. Why not them? My mind, it be cloudy, worn thin. I can’t concentrate. Think, Thomas – think. Would she really command my Margarete burned? Thomas and Marge? Would she really kill them before myne very eyes? Or is this man baffling me? Are they safe on the Continent or did Pole’s spies find them?

I gaze just beyond the Spaniard, and dearest Bishops Latimer and Ridley stand before me, burning pitifully, screaming in agony. Yes, the friar speaks truth. The Queen of England, Satan’s mistress, seeks revenge. This is hopeless. Either way I go, I be damned.

Broken, yes, after two long years, I am finally broken. I am sorry, Sir Thomas More. For this tribulation, there is no comfort. To route out this tribulation, I am willing to burn in hell so they don’t burn. Am I selfish? Or is that God’s will? Your writing, your gentle and humble wisdom, they tell me not.

I hold out my trembling hand, and the Spaniard hands back the parchment. My voice quivering, I say in complete surrender, “Come back in the ‘morrow. It shall be done.”

The friar sits down on the table before him, and holds out a fresh quill.

“Now, Dr. Cranmer, or Her Majesty’s offer is not guaranteed.”

I swallow hard, tears welling. O Lord forgive me.  I take the quill in my hand, and though shaking,  dip the quill in ink and seal my fate.

—– fade to black —–

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Given the overwhelming breadth of the magnificent life of Saint Thomas More, many people do not realize that he was an outstanding poet. In memory of Saint Thomas More, his poem, “The Words of Fortune to the People”:
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Lady Fortune and her Wheel. Boccaccio De Casibus Virorum Illustrium

Lady Fortune and her Wheel.
Boccaccio De Casibus Virorum Illustrium

The words of Fortune to the people.
~~ Master Thomas More — 1504 ~~

.Mine high estate, power, and authority
If ye ne know, ensearch and ye shall spy1
That riches, worship, wealth, and dignity
Joy, rest, and peace, and all things finally
That any pleasure or profit may come by
To man his comfort, aid, and sustenance,
Is all at my devise and ordinance.

.Without my favour there is nothing won,
Many a matter have I brought at last
To good conclude that fondly was begun,2
And many a purpose, bounden sure and fast
With wise provision, I have overcast.
Without good hap there may no wit suffice,3
Better ’tis to be fortunate than wise!
.And therefore have there some men been ere this
My deadly foes, and written many a book
To my dispraise.   And other cause there n’is4
But for me list not friendly on them look.5
Thus like the fox they fare, that once forsook
The pleasant grapes, and ‘gan for to defy them
Because he lept and yet could not come by them.6
.But let them write, their labour is in vain;
For well ye wot, mirth, honour, and riches7
Much better is than penury and pain.
The needy wretch that ling’reth in distress
Without my help, is ever comfortless,
A very burden, odious and loath
To all the world, and eke to himself both.8
.But he that by my favour may ascend
To mighty pow’r and excellent degree,
A commonweal to govern and defend,
O! in how bless’d condition standeth he,
Himself in honour and felicity,
And over that, may farther and encrease
A region whole in joyful rest and peace.
.Now in this point there is no more to say,
Each man hath of himself the governance;
Let every wight then follow his own way.9
And he that out of poverty and mischance
List for to live, and will himself enhance
In wealth and riches, come-forth and wait on me;
And he that will be a beggar, let him be.

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Saint Thomas More “Prayer Card” of the Roman Catholic Faith

ThomasMorePrayerCard

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“Tell me, MASTER Cromwell…”

April 29, 2016 in Historical Fiction, Tudor Y Writer's Group by ADMIN: Royal Squire

 

Thomas Cromwell: The man is impossible. I should have left for Parliament two hours ago, but here I still waiting in my office for my Lord of Suffolk to arrive. The arrogance of the man. He seems to think because I am common born that my time is not as valuable as his.

Charles Brandon: When I received Cromwell’s note this morning that he wanted me to join him by his office after council, I was really displeased because this man unnerves me. He always has reports. His nose is everywhere, and his attitude towards me makes me rage. He’s a lap dog to me,  a very annoying lap dog.  As I arrive at his office, where I am announced by his assistant. ”Master Secretary, his Grace, the Duke of Suffolk is here.” I come in, and he bids me to sit, offering a goblet of wine.I observe it suspiciously.

Thomas Cromwell: What a toad, snubbing his nose at the fine wine gifted to me by the Imperial Ambassador. I look across my desk, and get rigt to the point. ”His Majesty is seeking your support in an important matter of state. I should have been at Parliament over two hours ago, but yet again you are late for our meeting. I am bringing with me this series of parchments which detail the Act of Succession. In effect, it will change the succession of the crown from the LADY Mary to the children His Majesty will seed in our new and gracious Queen Anne.” I pass the parchments over. ”I suggest you review these carefully. His Majesty expects your support in pushing this through the House of Lords.” I drink some wine. It is sweet.

Charles Brandon: I finally decide to gulp down the wine, and it tastes very fine, fruity and good … but with Cromwell, you never know. ”His Majesty always has my support,” I say, even before listening to him … but once he tells me of the new Act of Succession and the fact that the Princess Mary is no longer a Princess, my face changes. My chin drops, damn it. ”He wants me to push this through the House of Lords?” I ask him, mostly reassuring myself of what I must do. Cromwell nods, and I take the papers into my hands, reading them quickly. … Indeed, the word Princess is stripped off Mary’s name, and it’s like a punch in my throat. I care not for religion, but deep down I am Catholic. She’s a catholic treasure to me. ”Queen Anne,” I say and look at him. ”I wonder why His Majesty sends you to tell me this when he can do it himself… Tell me, MASTER Cromwell, is it you who wrote this?”

Thomas Cromwell: He intimidates me not. I look him directly in the eye. ”I am the King’s Secretary and Chief Minister, YOUR GRACE. Obviously, it is my job to draft law at the King’s pleasure, and obviously it is my job to be instructing you of his desires in the matter. His Majesty is a busy man, and does not deal with such trifles. He just wants it done, by me in the House of Commons and by you in the House of Lords. This is his will, and the King’s will is the law, is it not?”

Charles Brandon:  I listen to him and sigh, loudly … It’s clear that we both bug each other, quite a lot. BUT, we are different. Cromwell has to respect me. And me? Well, I don’t have to… ”Yes the King’s will is law, but I wonder if it’s really his will,” I whisper lowly. His face shoots up, looking at me straightly. I sigh again and ask for more wine, which is poured to me immediately. ”I will do as the King commands Cromwell…” He smirks and I look at him, not being able to help it. ”I feel like I should know you by now, but somehow I don’t…” He looks at me emotionless, and I take a deep breath. ”Nevermind, I know what I mean.” I clear my throat. ”Ah, Cromwell… my wife sends her regards.” I laugh sarcastically. There’s no one that dislikes him more than me, but my wife… She dislikes him quite a lot.

Thomas Cromwell: I lean over the desk, and reply feigning concern… ”I do hope she starts her bleeds soon, Your Grace. I am sure you desire more children. It would be a shame if you had to wait too long.”

Charles Brandon: I want to laugh but… ”MASTER Cromwell, how dare you… how dare you speak in those terms of my wife?” I speak sternly, but inside my head I’m laughing, a lot… Tt was funny, but nevertheless, he must know his place. ”You are a servant; you can’t speak to me like that.” I looks at him with all seriousness.. ”Ironic isn’t it? That I have a wife next to me, that loves but you… can you say the same? Oh no wait, you are alone, like a street dog…” I clear my throat ”Now, I know your secret so… you better learn to respect your betters,” I say.

Thomas Cromwell: This man, also born common, forgets his roots. He knows “my secret” not. If he did, I would already be a dead man. No matter, let him gloat. I know who sleeps in my bed, and she isn’t a child. ”Your grace, I was merely stating concern on your behalf. And, my private life is not your concern. As you so commonly point out I am low-born. Obviously, I am not chasing the ladies here at court, but seek my comforts elsewhere..”

Charles Brandon: ”Very well, Master Secretary… I don’t see any point in continuing this conversation,” I say and finish my wine. I stand up and pick up the papers that he so graciously handed me over. ”I shall pass this through the House of Lords; you can tell his Majesty that it shall be done as he says,” I add and head out, back to my apartments. That man, one day, I will get rid of him… piece by piece, I will get rid of him.

Thomas Cromwell:  ”I am so glad we have an agreement, Your Grace. Carry on.”

Thomas Cromwell: “The song is about me, Your Grace.”

Charles Brandon: I roll my eyes and sneer, “No, MASTER Cromwell, it’s about ME.”

~~~~~ FADE TO BLACK ~~~~~

Reference Letter from King Henry Tudor for Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk

April 29, 2016 in Historical Fiction, News, Tudor Y Writer's Group by ADMIN: Royal Squire

 

THE TUDORS

To Whom It May Concern:

It is a pleasure for Henry the Eighth, by the Grace of God, King of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith and of the Church of England and also of Ireland in Earth Supreme Head to provide a character and professional reference for Sir Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. The following lists my Lord of Suffolk’s notable strengths and accomplishments:

1. My Lord of Suffolk is an outstanding sportsman. He excells at jousting, tennis and hunting. This stated, as evidenced by direct observation, he is a poor archer.

2. My Lord of Suffolk is respectful of authority, following His Majesty’s commands, whether or not he agrees with them. This stated, he does continually whine about it.

3. My Lord of Suffolk is an excellent father to his children. This stated he does not know who they all are.

4. My Lord of Suffolk is fair and unbalanced in how he views others within his work team. This stated he engages in fraternisation, as evidenced by his secret marriage to His Majesty’s sister and very close friendship with the King himself.

5. My Lord of Suffolk fully takes on his job responsibilities with moral integrity. This stated he married his 14-year-old ward who was legally engaged to his son and has children with her. (See verification provided below.)

6. My Lord Suffolk follows all policies and procedures as outlined in His Majesty’s Personnel Policy Manual. This stated he consistently abridges the Realm’s Sexual Harassment and Other Unlawful Harassment Policy through the engagement of sexual relations with a variety of female subordinates.

Please feel free to contact the office of the Chief Minister and Secretary of His Majesty’s Realm should you have any questions or require additional information. Unfortunately, given His Majesty’s very busy schedule, he is unavailable to communicate with prospective employers directly.

Sincerely,
Master Thomas Cromwell
Chief Minister and Secretary to the Realm of England and Wales

 

“For Tyndale, Of Course” — Reformation Day Commemoration

October 31, 2014 in Beth von Staats (REVELATION), Tudor Y Writer's Group by ADMIN: Royal Squire

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William Tyndale

William Tyndale

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“You kiss the arse of Luther, the shit-devil… Look, my fingers are smeared…”

~~~ Saint Thomas More ~~~

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In a field just outside Antwerp, Belgium — 1531

(POV: English Merchant and Cromwell agent, Stephen Vaughan)

Heavens, it’s damn cold, and here I be, standing in this field, waiting once again to meet with William Tyndale. King Henry offers safe passage home, and Tyndale, he trusts it not. I can’t say I fault the man. His Majesty can turn on a crown. If that comes to pass, the bastard More will burn him, just as Bishop Stokesley burned his Bible translations upon the steps of St. Paul’s, just as More did almost burn me. I’d be dead, all but for Cromwell. How we both live, just God knows. I pace to and fro to pass the time, thinking in my mind what dear Cromwell did send me, coded but clear. “Get Tyndale to England before he’s routed out. I’ll protect him. You know just how.”

Yes, I know the terms Tyndale laid clear. Either King Henry allows the Bible in English throughout the realm, or he will stay here. He is willing to die for that, but nothing short. I look out to the distance, and finally lay eyes on the man I seek. Who be that with him? Finally John Frith mayhaps? After six months of secret meetings, I’ve come to respect dear Tyndale. He has a gentle grace about him, but he be no fool. Trust has grown between us, and I know his heart — and he mine. Above all, we hold the same beliefs, the same values, the same God. O Lord, for that I thank thee abundantly. There is hope yet, hope that Your divine word will be known to all, stripped of the papal authority’s canon laws and false, self-serving interpretations. Make it so, I pray in Jesus’ name, my Lord and Savior.

I wave at Tyndale from across the field, and he smiles broadly. We rush to each other, the other man close behind. Winded he asks, “Did the king agree? Will he allow a Bible in English, Master Vaughan? Will he?”

Before answering I must be sure who stands among us. I pause and gesture to the stranger. “John Frith, he be my noble servant of God in translation endeavors. I trust him all,” assures dear Tyndale.

I bow respectfully. Both Thomas Cromwell and I know of Frith well. His translations of the great Scottish martyr Patrick Hamilton are now legend, spread across the realm like autumn leaves blowing hither and yon. God knows the risks we took to get them to England. I rest my hand on Tyndale’s shoulder and speak frankly with resignation. “No, His Majesty was livid at the demand. He offers safe haven, but nothing more. Mine master — he dares push him no further.”

I look over to John Frith with the message planned if granted our hoped for audience, “Alas, you are welcome, as well, good man. Master Cromwell offers you safe haven, as he does for Christopher Mont, in his own home. Mont is translating Lutheran writings as we now speak.” He looks back at me guardedly and tips a nod.

“Stephen, His Majesty is into trickery. His legal advisor — your master — Cromwell, though reformist in views as you say, does his bidding. I’d be a fool to go. I’d lay down my life for an English language Bible for our people, but I have no death wish. I am sorry for all your troubles to sway me, your risks taken. Alas, son, I’m not going,” says Tyndale, his mind set like Excalibur. Me, no King Arthur, can move him not.

“Nor I… not yet,” chimes Frith.

Do I speak frankly? I decide it be time. “In truth, Cromwell is not Reformist in views, dear man. He speaks out what he can safely say. The king’s new legal advisor, truth be told, follows Luther. He’s in now so tight with His Majesty, God knows how, even the bastard Lord Chancellor can’t touch him, though he tries at any opportunity.”

“The Lord Chancellor? My God man, More speaks filth. He refers to Luther as a shit-devil and says my mouth is full of dung, the pig,” Tyndale growls pointed.

Nodding his head, Frith adds, “That man may be Lord Chancellor of the realm, but he is of the devil, spewing Satan’s work. There be not shit on his hands, but dead men.”

I try to ease the tension with good humor. “Well, Dr. Tyndale… John Frith…  Master Cromwell shan’t say shit if he had a mouthful, albeit he steps in it from time to time.” We  laugh heartily. God, we did need it. Now I must speak seriously. I pray God he listens. “Dr. Tyndale… and you also John Frith… you swim in dangerous waters. I fear ye both will drown. There be no place safe in Christendom for you, not without protection.”

“We do have protection, Stephen,” reassures Tyndale naively.

William Tyndale needs know their protection is not a secret to all. “Thomas Poyntz, though resourceful he be, can’t keep you safe, good man.” I look over to John Frith, “And I know where you lay thy head too. Need I tell ye?”

Both men look at me stunned like I be Merlin the Wizard. That would be mine dearest friend Cromwell, but let them suppose. “I have no idea of whom you speak, Stephen,” offers Tyndale, his voice a’quiver.

“Aye, but yes you do. And if Master Cromwell knows where you rest your head, who may find you next, good man?” I swallow hard and venture on. Damn Cromwell, the things I do for him. “I grudge you not His Majesty’s offer. It’s backhanded at best, but do hear Master Cromwell’s. Let us smuggle you home, under his protection. It’s your best hope.”

“What? Are you daft, man? Is Cromwell insane? What does he suggest next? That I rest my head at Chelsea among More’s menagerie? My God man, I’m no fool,” chides Tyndale.

“If I go back to England, I will leave mine protection to God. I trust the king’s new man not,” Frith chides.

I state the obvious as it escapes them. “The best place to hide is in a crowd. Who would venture you to be sitting right under King Henry’s nose?” I pause, then plead. “Please, both of you… think, think hard, think now. It really is your best hope, I do swear. We have all planned. It’s arranged, carefully in all detail. Every resource is at your disposal.”

I add, “John Frith, go it alone and More will chase you down as the king does a stag. That not be God’s will I fear.” I pause and make the message clear. “If you go your own way, Dr. Frith, we can do nothing to protect you. Cromwell has the king’s ear, but so does More, the King’s Secretary Winchester and Lord Norfolk. My master swims with serpents. It be at your own peril. Know that now.”

“Cromwell, either he is a liar and a charlatan or he risks far too much. Stephen, I thank you most humbly, but I just can’t do it. I’ll stay here and carry on,” Tyndale says with full conviction.

I sigh, resigned to Dr. Tyndale’s decision, a foolish one, but his to make. “The offer stands, good man. Should you change your mind, send word to me.” I swallow hard, and offer what is only left to give. “Dr. Tyndale, stay where you are, and I will use our resources here in Antwerp, with Master Cromwell’s blessing, to insure that no one finds you, but you must know this. If Judas prays upon you, there is no hope. Choose your confidants wisely, or you shall perish.” I look to this man of God, a man who in truth risks far more than me, and rest my hands upon his arms. “God be with you, Dr. Tyndale.”

I look over to John Firth and advise, though I see he be stubborn in his ways… a man who will throw all caution to the wind, thus will die. There be no need for mystics to predict it. “You are safer here then there alone, good man. I beseech you reconsider the offer before you. We need cautious reformers, not martyrs.”

“If it be God’s will I be a martyr, that be that. I will do what my prayers do lead me.”

Resigned to their wills, I drop to my knees before the great reformer William Tyndale, both of us most willing to risk our lives to bring the word of God to all Englishmen. He gently rests his hands on my head. “May God bless and protect you, Stephen Vaughan, through our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. May He protect us all.”

~~~~~ Fade To Black ~~~~~

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Video Credit: DU Rom (You Tube) 

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ThomasCromwell_SigTS (2)

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Cromwell’s home by Austin Friars Abbey — London 1537

(POV: English Merchant and Cromwell agent, Stephen Vaughan)

Exhausted from my travels from Antwerp, smuggled into England unknown to all but in this room, I am exhilarated. There, on the dining table in Lord Cromwell’s banquet hall at Austin Friars, sits before us all that we toiled for, took huge risks for, smuggled for, spied for, languished for, prayed for, nearly burned at the stake and like the foolish John Frith, martyred for — God’s word, the Holy Bible, in English. With my dearest Tyndale dead despite all of our best efforts to save him, strangled until unconscious, then burned as a heretic by the Spaniards, my dear Lord Cromwell looked to our friend, John Rogers to rush an English language Bible into publication while awaiting Myles Coverdale to complete the translations of the New and Old Testaments of a Great Bible still to come. My God, my prayers are with this brave soul, hopeful his alias “Thomas Matthew” shall keep him safe. A tad drunk from this Frescobaldi Chiati Lord Cromwell pays dearly to import from Italy, the enormity of the moment sinks through the core of me just the same, and I venture, “When do you dare present this to His Majesty?”

My lord Cromwell lays his work worn hand of the common man upon the Bible and gently feels the leather cover, embossed in gold, much of Tyndale’s own words beneath speaking truth. God willing this shall be my lord Cromwell’s crowning achievement, not his damnation. I look to my friend, many a year passed risked together. A smile slowly etches across his face. “Tomorrow, dear man — if I find the gonads. His Majesty sways like a summer rain. Tomorrow, I will be heralded a genius or arrested for heresy, which comes to pass, only time will tell.”

I look over across the table to Archbishop Cranmer and shrug my shoulders. My lord Cromwell, he is a quandary. His Grace smiles back at me knowingly, as when the Lord Privy Seal be jesting, sly or serious, no man can tell. His Grace clears his throat. “A Bible in English — my prayers these many years are finally answered! Don’t fret so, Thomas. His Majesty will be right pleased, my lord, his supremacy laid bare for all to read or hear, direct from God’s Holy Word in our mother tongue. Shall I go with you?”

Shall the Archbishop go with him? Is the man daft? No, as my master told me many a time, the blessed man is naive. Without my lord’s help, our beloved Archbishop would be thrown to the wolves long by now. “No, Your Grace. If His Majesty throws a rage, best at least one of us remain to carry forward, laying in wait for a better time.” Lord Cromwell gestures to God’s blessing laying before us. “Your Grace, for now, your hands are clean of this. Should His Majesty be pleased and command we move forward, I will be counting on you to write a preface of Coverdale’s work. Your words, they are of a poet, more beautiful than those of Sir Thomas Wyatt and Lord Surrey, exquisite in their gracious simplicity.”

Archbishop Cranmer, he swells with pride. Though most think him a humble man, I know better. So does our host. “Of course, my lord. I am truly humbled by your words and kind offer,” he says simply. Lord Cromwell glaces my way with a wink, and I nearly spew my Chianti. Damn, he knows better than to bait me so, the dog.

I raise my goblet in toast. “To Tyndale, may he look on joyously!”

“To Tyndale!” we all exclaim.

My lord Cromwell slams his goblet on the table and rises, looks to me and cocks his head to the side, arms crossed. Damn, I know what comes now, yet another assignment. Is he trying to send me to an early grave? “Stephen, chase the bastard across Christendom if you must, but before you slit his throat from ear to ear, do tell Tyndale’s Judas Harry Phillips the King’s Lord Privy Seal sends his regards.”

I raise my goblet his way, and state the obvious between us. “For Tyndale, of course.”

“By God, Thomas, sit down and be still. Repent now, dear man. I fear your damnation,” chides Archbishop Cranmer.

Lord Cromwell sits down with feigned sheepishness, tipping a nod in deference to our most blessed cleric. Who else but the king gets away with this? No one, I say… no one in this realm would so dare.

“Get ready then, Your Grace. I trust my last confession will wear you thin.”

“You say you were a ruffian as a child, my lord. I dare say you are a ruffian still,” teases the Archbishop. His Grace, his wit quick, waves his finger in jest. I laugh heartily, whilst Lord Cromwell merely snickers. As the merchant Jews of Antwerp say, “Man thinks. God laughs.” These two be an odd pair, and Our Savior enjoys the show.

Gently eased into submission by the Italians and their wine, we all grow silent, staring at the Bible before us, overcome with the enormity of the day, the enormity of what lies ahead. Lord Cromwell’s ink stained fingers begin strumming upon the table. “Kill the bastard, Vaughan! Kill the Judas Harry Phillips, I say. I pay ye well.”

~~~~~ Fade to Black ~~~~~

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Author’s Note: Stephen Vaughan, one of English Tudor History’s lesser known historical figures, was a London merchant. Close friends with Thomas Cromwell since 1520, he was a known Cromwell agent, primarily based in Antwerp, Belgium. Some historians suggest the two worked together to smuggle Lutheran writings into England while Thomas More was Lord Chancellor. To learn more about the remarkable life of Stephen Vaughan visit Wiki Source: Vaughan, Stephen.

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Chronicles of a Restless Soul, by Mercy Alicea Rivera

October 31, 2014 in Hall of Crowns (Mercy Rivera), Historical Fiction, Queen Anne Boleyn -- All Website Content, The Final Days of Queen Anne Boleyn, Tudor Y Writer's Group by Mercy Rivera

Mercy Alicea Rivera Mercy Rivera

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Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers is thrilled to introduce to you historical fiction short story and non-fiction article writer Mercy Rivera.

Mercy Rivera is a founding member of Queenanneboleyn.com and is highly respected as the website’s Queen Anne Boleyn reenactor. A native of Puerto Rico, Mercy also writes Spanish language articles and stories for the website. A woman of many talents, Mercy is a video hobbyist. The videos included with Mercy’s short story Chronicles of a Restless Soul are of her creation.

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Chronicles of a Restless Soul

 

I am trapped in time, trapped in silence, memories, in pain, sadness and agony. I am trapped within the walls of this Tower, below the sky, in the traces of the path of the story of my life.  I see life coming and going every single day…. Sometimes I make myself felt, and sometimes I just act like a cold whisper that makes them remember that one day I was real.

I have been a silent witness of the changes of time… eras came and left, and everything is different– but life is the same. Everyone wishes the same things. I hear them when they speak. Some of them praise me and admire me… others… judge me like the ones who sent me to my death. But in this era I must say… I have more supporters than when I was a living Queen. Oh! And how much they admire my precious Elizabeth. That makes me feel so proud and assures me that my life and my fate were not in vain.

But my favorite time is when the night comes… when all the noises, the rush of the living and the interruptions of the… extreme modern era that is now, goes quiet.  Is at night when I come out freely. Sometimes I get too bored and make fun of others…I scared the guards a little, but I never go too far… like some legends that I heard from visitors.  When you are… like I am now, you are free to go wherever you want; and you can also see those who once shared a life and a death with you.

I do not spend too much time wandering in the Tower. This cold and dark place that I hate with all my being, but that is also part of me… This was my last home.  I was blessed with power and glory here… and also judge, abandoned and unjustly condemned.  I leave the tower every night, and I fly away towards my home…the place where I grew up, where I was happy, where once I heard poems and was captivated by my King… my darling and cruel Henry.  Oh Hever… you have changed but not too much….the essence of my existence is still present in all the corners.  My home, too many memories…. At least I am still here to remember.  Sometimes I see my brother around…. But his soul is too damaged. He just looks at me and then he fades away. In more than four hundred years since… that happened, I have not been able to speak to my dear George. For some reason he refuses to be with me in death… he remembers his pain more than the fact that we were inseparable in life. 

And over there…my beautiful gardens….they are taking good care of them, even when I see changes is still precious.   I find my sister Mary here sometimes… She talks to me. She pardoned my pride and cruelty towards her back when I was Queen and arrogant.  My poor sister… And my mother, the gracious and proud Countess of Wiltshire and Ormond, also haunts this place…is hard to see her, because every time we see each other, all is sadness, mixed with smiles. She just looks at me. Even in death we can touch each other. I can feel her maternal caresses. Then she says “I am so sorry” and like my brother… she fades away in an extreme level of sorrow.  Alas, I never see my father here… but I can hear him… He cries out loud. He is in pain.  I know that very well. He betrayed his own blood and that will never let him rest. My poor father….

 Then I start to have memories of the days that marked the beginning of my end; and when that happens.  I think… why my fate changed?  I was in love with another man, a simple man that would never treat me with cruelty or betray my love, but then…I was forced to capture a King and I lost the way… I lost myself.

 

I remember that masked ball… when I met the King. He was Honesty and I Perseverance, symbolic indeed.  At first… I did not care for him.  I had a duty.  I had to obey my father and my uncle’s wishes, but then….when I looked in to his eyes….he captured me. Maybe that is why all worked so well at the beginning. True love was finally the base of the game, and one day, I was his Queen. I bore him a daughter…. And I lost two children. The last sealed my fate.

Sometimes I spent days and nights wandering here in Hampton Court… Oh Hampton court, so many stories… Henry haunts here…. He really liked this place. I only found him here once. I can not remember the time. I do not follow the count, but it was a long time ago. He usually hides from me, but I can always feel him when he is around.  It was a stormy night when I found him in the Gallery, alone. He felt my presence and he turned around; he said “Anne, Anne, why are you here?

And I answered; you should know… since you ordered my death. 

He looked at me for a long time, and he finally said the words I wanted to hear since that horrible day; he said:   Anne, forgive me. I destroyed all that I loved and cared of in my days — my greed, my obsession for a male heir… my madness, my fears, turned me in to a monster. I sent you to a death you did not deserved. I killed you, but you must know that even when I hid it. I never forgot about you. That is why I kept Elizabeth away for a long time… Every time I looked at her… I was seeing you; and that was a torture to my conscience!  But you won Anne. The son I had with Jane was not the monarch I dreamt; but our daughter… she was greater than me, greater than my forefathers! She was the True Tudor Rose!  Anne, oh Anne, I am a tormented soul. I am doomed to be trapped in the ruins of my deeds and I deserve it.  If only I could turn back time… and be more human and less king, more a man and less a tyrant…forgive me, forgive me. 

He stood there, waiting for my answer, but I could not speak. I just walk slowly towards him, and I touched his face with my cold and pale hand, and I saw our lives in flashes of light. I saw the best moments of our fairy tale romance, and then I smiled, and finally found the words for him: “Your Majesty… even when you caused me pain, agony, fear, deception and sorrow, I can not hate you. In the times when you used to love me, you made me the most happy; you gave me all, you made me your queen, and you also helped me with the blessing of motherhood. Elizabeth was part of you and me, the glory of our existence, and the fruit of the love we once shared. I can not forget the suffering you caused me. You condemned me even when you knew in your heart that I was innocent. For that… I can not give you a full pardon. But I do not hate you, because I loved you… and because the glorious memory of Elizabeth will always remind me of it.  Tell me my lord… Do you remember the passion we shared?  I do — our love was like no other… our passion was never seeing in the open like we showed it. Can you remember that? 

When I asked him that his expression changed. He smiled and I swear that I saw the shine of tears in his eyes. We looked at each other for the longest time. We were remembering the passion that made both of us immortal in the annals of history.  He says to me: “We were to powerful to be man and wife. We competed all the time. You wanted to be on top of me, to be higher than me and I could not allow that! But I admit that I always longed for the passion you gave me, and when I see you know, with the beauty that charmed me… I feel the pain of being dead.

After a moment, I said to him: “Not only my cruel and undeserved death will torture you forever, the passion, the lust and the intense love I gave you, will always live in your mind, eternally. I marked you as well as you marked me, your majesty.

Immediately I saw in his eyes that familiar anger that he always showed to me when he felt defeated, when he wanted to be stronger than me at any cost. With a frowned face, he disappeared in a cold and furious phantom breeze.  Since then, I can only feel him, but I can not see him.  Henry… my love and my damnation, the seed of this purgatory.

The night is long and I continue with my travel around the ruins and places where I once lived, smiled, cried and despaired.  And in the gallery… near the old main chamber, I find her one more time… It is strange… I have not seen her over a century and tonight. She once again dares to appear before me, the woman who carried the seal of my death behind her innocent face… Jane Seymour.  Like in the first time I saw her after… her unexpected passing, she carries a candle and her face is adorned with the grey glitter of sadness. Here we are again, face to face, but of course… in extremely different circumstances.  I finally speak to her translucent image: “Jane… this night must be somehow special, since I see thee and just one moment ago I was meditating about his Majesty”. 

She was staring at me, with tearful eyes, and finally she answered: “Have you seen my son?  I am trying to find him but I can not”.  She is indeed lost in her own misery. Her punishment was harder than mine. It is true that I lost two babies, but at least I had the joy of spent time with my Elizabeth. I was blessed with the chance to be a mother… even when that chance was minimum.

I do not know how to answer to her.  Suddenly her expression changed… she now seems to recognize me:  “Anne, Anne Boleyn; we are both trapped between the dead and the living. I did to you, what you did to Queen Catherine of Aragon. We moved the world and we acted with cruelty for the love and power of the same man. We lost our purity, our sense of humanity and care for others. I was overjoyed when you die…I must admit that sometimes… My conscience tortured me.  I assumed the same happened to you in your time.  But I ask you now… in mercy, please forgive me so I can escape this limbo and reached the soul of my son. 

The bitterness of my days are still with me. It is true that I was a huge contribution in the sadness and misery of Queen Catherine of Aragon, but I did not sent her to a brutal and unmerciful execution. Catherine died abandoned, and so did I — but she had the consolation of prayers. She will always be remembered as a sacred monarch, while I… Some say that I desired Catherine of Aragon’s death, that I even poisoned her but that is a lie. When I was desperate, paranoid and lost in the wild seas of wine and lonely nights, I said things than later I regretted. Knowing myself, if somehow I meant those threats in my days for sure I would have put them in action, but I never did.

Finally, I speak to the waiting spirit of Queen Jane Seymour: Alas Jane, I can not give you that. I carry a lot of pain with me… you are true when you said that I was the cause of Queen Catherine of Aragon’s misery, but you caused me greater pain. Because of you I lost my last chance to survive as queen and human being. I lost my boy because of you and because of Henry too.  You said you rejoiced in my death, and then you want my forgiveness. Why should I be merciful with you, when you were never merciful with me? 

Jane bows her head, and then looks at me again: “I am sorry that I caused you pain… but I guess, it will be impossible to forgive when we are not able to pardon ourselves.  My son died young… while your daughter reigned long and supreme. I envy you so much for that, even in death. I gave him the son he wanted…. You did not, but I failed because he was weak and he died, while you will always be remembered eternally as the woman who gave birth to the greatest monarch England ever had.  You see? I think I do not deserve your pardon after all.  Jane disappears.Nnow I pity her… She is envious of me, and she can not even find the soul of her son. At least I do not have that burden upon me anymore.

I continue with my nightly routine in Hampton Court. The night is walking towards its end, but I still have time to enjoy my freedom.  Suddenly… I hear the heavenly sound of a violin. It must be him, my dear friend Mark Smeaton! Oh; Mark, you are here…and you are playing the violin for me.  I feel touched by the sweet notes he is playing, and then, my joy arises more when he appears before me, near the entrance of what it once were Henry’s main bedchamber.

I walk towards him with a smile, and he smiles back while he continues to play Como poden per sas culpas. This one brings so many memories back to me… especially of my younger days, when my passion for Henry burnt more than the wildest fire.  Mark… my poor Mark, he died for my cause… and innocent soul dragged to darkness thanks to the cruelty of the almighty and  unjust Henry VIII, and my failure to give him what he wanted.  I smile with sadness towards my dear friend Mark… he did not deserve that bloody and cold death.

Suddenly, he stops playing, and comes closer to me:  My glorious queen and friend, please do not be sad for me, because as long as you decide to wander here… I will be around to please you with my music.  My death was my own. Torture can turn a man in to a coward in the blink of an eye. I paid for that… but now I am here… to make your burden less hard to bear. 

With that, he starts to play the violin again. I smile and nod to him, then I look to my left, and there I see a gentleman that I will always remember with sorrow, Sir Henry Norris. In my days of despair I was disrespectful and unfair with him, but fear was the detonator for that — but I can see no hard feelings in his presence.  He is there, looking peacefully at me, with the same admiration and that flirty essence that somehow condemned him in the end. He bows with elegance before me, and disappears. I turn my gaze to Mark again, and he continues to play the violin with greatness and a very subliminal essence.

But suddenly he stops playing, and disappears. I feel a tense aura, a coldness that is no natural not even for us.  When I turn around, I see three of my old enemies… together.  Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell.  I have no reason to fear them or hate them anymore. There is nothing we can do to re-do our lives or make all different, but when I look at them, I see they do not feel the same.

In an instant, Cromwell leaves his place beside Wolsey and appears right in front of me. Then he says: “I see you still here Madame;  it seems all of us will continue to see each other eternally… until judgment day.

I smile to him and then reply:  Judgment day? I have been judged already my lord Cromwell, but when the Lord comes back to pass His own judgment to the living and us, the dead; I will be calmed, since I died innocent, and with so little guilt.

Cromwell smiles, I know he has more to say: “Little guilt you said, Majesty. If I well remember you caused the downfall of that poor man over there. You and all your Boleyn kin, and of course, the Howards.  I see your uncle around here from time to time, and his son; the poor boy; even in death both are difficult to bear.  And then… I still remember how you treated me, on your days of queen. 

I am ready to answer him: Is true I helped in the downfall of Wolsey… but he was not a saint. He had his deeds but yes, I and my kin as you well said, we took advantage of that. Sir Thomas More hated me, and I guess I returned him the same feeling. I am well aware that he died because of me; for sure after his death Henry began to hate me. And I remind you that my attacks against you were well based.  I was right because you were misleading our reformation, and you supported the King’s liaison with Jane Seymour. And worst, you built an abominable plot against me. You sent me to the scaffold when you knew I was innocent. You damned your soul only to please the King. And how it ended?  With your death…even more bloody than mine, you suffered… for sure you felt an immense amount of pain, and endless agony. You tried to reach beyond heaven… and your fall was terrible. Now… anything else you wish to tell me, my lord Cromwell?

Cromwell looks at me with rage in his eyes, but I can also see pain and devastation in his presence. He disappears. Then I look at the ghostly presence of Cardinal Wolsey. He is just there, in silence, but I can see the hate in his eyes towards me. He walks away, and fades in the distance. Finally, Sir Thomas More turns his back and disappears.  I am alone again, so I decide to continue with my journey.

I walk near the King’s private Chapel, when I hear the sound of a young girl sobbing. I look towards the gallery and then I see her… poor Catherine Howard. my poor little cousin, who shared my fate.  She looks at me, and then she comes running like a desperate soul in need. She is finally before me, her expression of panic touches my heart: “Please, I need to see the King, he has to listen to me. Please let me see him. I beg you!  I must see him — don’t you understand? As soon as I see him everything will be all right!

I feel pity for her… She is not entirely a lost soul; she is an echo of an extreme sorrow, pain and desperation. I look at her with tenderness: “My poor child, and sweet cousin, there is no need for you to be in despair. All is over. You do not need to see the King and beg for forgiveness; is over”. 

She looks at me with tears in her eyes. They are like little drops of ice: “How can you say that?! Is not over! I know I can make him understand. He loves me. He will forgive me!  I need to speak to him!

It is useless. She is lost in her agony and the fear she suffered. It make me feel sad when I see her like that. She walks through me and starts to hit the Chapel doors and screams Henry’s name and begs for mercy.  Tired of not having a response, she disappears in front of the Chapel doors.  Poor Katherine Howard…. It was not her fault either. Like me she was a moth drawn to the flame… and burnt.

The cold of the night is fading away….that means the dawn is near — and now I am here, contemplating the resting place of my beloved daughter, Elizabeth.  I am so proud of her, fiercely proud. She was so clever… The Queen who is still remembered in this era. As The Virgin Queen, her reign was a golden age. She was strong, just, kind, candid, fair. She was the best of Henry and me. But alas, love was not kind with her…She never married, even when she loved with all her being… like I did once.  Suddenly, I hear the laughter of a child, a playful breeze walks beside me and then… I see her…  Elizabeth, she looks like the last time I see her, my beautiful baby girl. She decided to appear before me, just like in the last time I held her in my arms. I smile as I see her. I can not believe it!

As ghosts we can do as we wish… and she wants to be my baby girl again.  I walk towards her. I pick her up and I hold her again. She looks so beautiful and sweet:  “My sweet and beloved Elizabeth, I loved you since I saw you for the first time… I loved you then and I love you now with the same force that nature brings in motherhood. You did great in life. You honored your name, your blood and your destiny.  Your father is also very proud of you. My beautiful virgin Queen; my Elizabeth. 

She looks at me with bright eyes, is in her eyes where she is showing me all the events of her life… the story of her, who filled my life with joy, my last triumph in this life was her.  And then she smiles, oh how much I missed that sweet smile.  I hold her, is wonderful how God can continue blessing the souls of those who are still trapped in the walls of the past, like me… like so many others. And then, I hear footsteps. I do not dare to look back, since I can recognize who it is.  Then, I hear her voice:

“You can hold her with pride, Ana Bolena. You proved in the end that you were better than me, in capturing the heart of Henry; and your daughter… was your redemption. Since I have to admit, that you die innocent. 

Still holding Elizabeth, I slowly turn around, and I see her, Queen Catherine of Aragon. She is there, and I can not see hate in her eyes.  I respectfully make a little curtsey to her, and to my surprise, she nods and then does the same. “My poor Mary died young… your Elizabeth had a long and prosperous life… She was right and was wise when she decided to never marry. She was he own ruler, her own keeper.  She was stronger than us.  I am now ready to answer:  “Madame, I admit I was arrogant in my days… but I never turned my threats into actions against you or against your daughter. Alas, I know I caused you pain and misery, and I tried to reach your daughter’s heart but… her mind was poisoned against me, even when I know, that she was… correct in feeling hate towards me. I destroyed her parent’s marriage. 

She smiles to me, and peacefully replies:  “My marriage was dead before you entered in our lives. I just… did not want to admit it.  I loved Henry with a force stronger than myself, stronger than the world itself and that… that made me blind.  Also my Spanish Pride made me stubborn enough to fight for what was mine.  My pride… my love for Henry, my worthless fight for my place as Queen, that also destroyed Mary. If I could turn back time, I would probably do all different. I shall have let him go to you… probably Mary would had suffered less.  

She is touching my heart with her words. I look at Elizabeth, she looks so peaceful in my arms:  “I am sorry, your majesty; for all the pain my presence caused in your lifetime”. 

She once again smiles:  “I pardoned you and Henry a long time ago… that is why I am not trapped as you are, as many of those I knew are.  I come down and up again…because I still want to find my daughter, but she is not here… She is not within this walls, or in the ruins of our times. She is trapped elsewhere, in a darker place.  Her bitterness, her sad and damaged soul twisted her mind, and she lost the way I taught her. Mi preciosa Mary. I lost her, forever. 

With that, she walks away, and disappears in the distance.  I look at the window on my left, and I can see the first rays of the sun between the dark clouds of the dying night. It is time to go back to the walls, to the ruins, to hide from the presence of the living. I look at my darling daughter once more:  “Time to sleep, my baby girl, go to rest, mama will do the same…go to the angels my sweet Elizabeth. I will guard your dreams, eternally. She smiles, and slowly disappears from my arms, like a soft cold breeze. Now I feel so empty, but I know I will see her again… since we belong here…this is our home, the memories keep us alive, and as long as we are remembered, we will never die.

“Come, Child.” (Queen Katherine Parr: Died September 5, 1548)

September 5, 2014 in Elizabethan Court, Historical Fiction, Tudor Y Writer's Group by ADMIN: Royal Squire

Tomb of Queen Katherine Parr, St Mary’s Chapel, Sudeley Castle

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Hit “Play” on video and read threat while listening: 

 

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Katherine Parr Seymour: I am so uncomfortable. It is hard to breathe, and my back aches so. My heart is what hurts most, though. I miss Elizabeth, and Lady Jane is so despondent, confused as to what drove the princess away. I decide I have no choice but to tell her the truth, and I pray I can find the right words. As I rest in confinement, I send my most trusted servant to go find her.

Lady Jane Grey: *I have been called to the Dowager Queen’s chamber, she is almost in full term and I am sure she must feel uncomfortable, but at the same time she is probably happy since she will have a child from the man she loves… even when I think he does not deserve her love. I open the door of her chamber; and curtsey with elegance.* “Madame, you sent for me?”

Katherine Parr Seymour: I try to sit myself up on the pillows, and as I struggle, one of my ladies comes to assist me. I pat her hand and thank her. ”Oh dear Jane, come sit down beside me on the bed. I wish to speak with you.” As Lady Jane complies with my request, I offer… ”I wish to explain why Princess Elizabeth needed to leave us.”

Lady Jane Grey: *I look down, I really miss Princess Elizabeth… she is a kind young lady and in many ways we have things in common,* “Sure Madame.” *I look at her with sadness*

Katherine Parr Seymour: I hold Jane’s hand, and speak softly. ”Jane, I am heart broken by this. I sent Elizabeth away to protect her… and to safeguard her reputation. With God’s grace, she some day will reign as Queen of this realm.” I begin to tear up, and my heart aches. ”Thomas… yes, my husband Thomas is attracted to her and made inappropriate advances towards her.” I begin crying, and add… ”I must know. Has he made advances towards you, child?”

Lady Jane Grey: *I blush and I feel a little ashamed.* “No Madame, never… “*Sometimes I found him looking at me in a strange and inappropriate ways, but I will not tell her that. There is no reason for her to suffer more.*

Katherine Parr Seymour: ”Jane, please help me up. Let’s kneel in prayer… ask God to guide us, ask God to heal us, ask God to heal my beloved Princess, who I love as my own daughter.”

Lady Jane Grey: “Of course Madame.” *With extreme care I help the Dowager Queen to get up, and I wait until she finds enough comfort and knees so we can start with our prayers*

Katherine Parr Seymour: As Jane assists me to my knees, I feel water flowing from me and I double over in pain…. ”Jane, pray for me and get Thomas and the midwife. It’s my time… it’s my time.”

Princess Elizabeth:  I am sitting in my apartments, reading when Lady Kat brings me a message from Chelsea telling me that my step-mother Dowager Queen Katherine Parr Seymour is in labor and that Lord Thomas Seymour will send a messenger when Lady Katherine brings forth her child. I fold the message and bow my head praying for Lady Katherine’s safe delivery of her child and for her to survive her travail.

Katherine Parr Seymour: God… water… water. I am so hot… my head, spinning… spinning. “Mary? Mary? Bring her to me, please.”…. I hold her, kiss her, love her… “Where’s Jane? Where’s Jane? Jane, dear… pray for me. I fear I will die.” Sleep… sleep… I am burning, burning. Is this hell? No.. no… no… I see him not. Satan, he’s not with me. I turn around to see who is.

OH MY NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I scream, but nothing comes out. I look all around me. There they are, the jury… dear Surrey… pious More….  trusted Essex… beautiful Queen Anne… merry Kitty… traitor Buckingham…. musical Smeaton… loyal Norris…. Rochford holding hands with his wife… the heretic Fisher… and my most beloved Anne Askew…. circled all around me, their heads rolling on the ground by their feet. “Oh justice is what you are threatened with”, says Essex. I smell the stench of rotten flesh, and in the distance there he stands, holding the axe, Henry. Satan. He IS here. I am burning, burning, burning… and they fade away. All dead. All gone. None forgotten.

The birds chirp and I smell baked apples. Home, loved and warm… the hearth crackling as the embers burn. My mother greets me at the entrance. “Come to mummy Katherine. Come, child.” Her beauty rare, I walk slowly towards her.

Lady Jane Grey: *My Dowager Queen delivered a healthy and beautiful baby girl after long and difficult hours of labor she named her Mary, but the time for her joy was short. Since my lady has been ill after the birth of her daughter. I have been beside her all the time, giving her comfort and doing my best to ease her discomfort. I am so worried, I do not see signs of recovery at all, to me she is getting worse. May God Help her and Bless her back with her health.*

Katherine Parr Seymour: I’m so hot… so hot… but God has blessed me… there she is, my beloved mother, holding out her arms outstretched. ”Come to mummy Katherine. Come child.” I walk towards her, and speak out… ”Mother?”

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Jean Simmons and Stewart Granger in "Young Bess"

Jean Simmons and Stewart Granger in “Young Bess”

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Thomas Seymour: ~I have been told that my wife has delivered a beautiful baby girl. I am a little disappointed that it is not a son, but I know I shall love her just the same. I have been summoned and permitted to see my wife and child. There is a strangeness among the maids. I cannot seem to understand it. I go to the chamber and I am allowed in. I nod to the Lady Jane and hurry to my wife’s side. I hear her mumble words that sounds like Mother. I am most certain that I am hearing things. ”Sweet Katherine,” I say softy as I come to her side.

Lady Jane Grey: *I am trying to hold my tears, but something tells me that this situation will not end well, my Dowager Queen looks so weak. Her fever is burning her; but for the first time, I see a real concern on her husband’s face. I am glad he is taking his place beside her. She needs him now, more than ever*

Katherine Parr Seymour: I feel my mother take my hand and draw me into her warm embrace, along with a cool breeze. ”Katherine, I have missed you, child. Come with me. Henry waits.” ….. ”Henry?…. Henry?” Poof, in an instant, all goes black.

Lady Jane Grey: *I fall on my knees; the pain in my heart is intense, I have lost the only person close to the mother I ever wanted. My dear lady , my friend, my… mother, she has left me. Now I will be lost.*

Thomas Seymour: ~I squeeze Katherine’s hand tightly and kiss it. I see that she is burning up with some ailment from childbirth. My heart sinks. Shall I lose my dear wife. I feel a tear coming from my eyes and look at Jane. She is looking as if she will weep at any moment. ”Katherine,” I say again with eyes pleading, ”I love you…” I whisper. I see that her face as no recognition. She is burning up. The word Henry slips out. I gasp and see her close her eyes and lose colour. ”Oh my dear Katherine,” I weep as I bring her hand to my mouth and kiss it again. She is lost forever.

Princess Elizabeth: A few days later a rider approaches Hatfield his garments and horse draping are black. A hand grips my heart as the rider kneels at my feet and silently hands me a message.

Dearest Princess Elizabeth,
It is with heavy heart that I must inform you of the passing of my beloved wife Lady Katherine. She passed after giving birth to our daughter Mary, from childbed fever. My heart doth break at the loss of my beloved. I shall write again anon when the mourning period is over.
Your loyal servant,
Lord Thomas Seymour

 

“Gentle Wyatt ~ Goodbye ~ Pray For Me!” (Thomas Cromwell, Executed July 28, 1540)

July 28, 2014 in Tudor Y Writer's Group by ADMIN: Royal Squire

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“Oh, justice is what you’re threatened with.” 

 ~~Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex~~

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Heresy. Damned to hell for heresy, so the attainder says, so Audley says, so Gardiner says, so Norfolk says, so Rich says and due to their evilness, so his Majesty, the God here on earth my father slaved to says. The bastards, for years they were determined to make it so, and today they get their way. My wife, my Elizabeth, she is distraught, overwhelmed, disgusted. Always at my side, today she carries me. Always tolerant of my shortcomings, today she forgives all. For the last seven years, I carried his secret, their secret… and today the promises made begin in earnest. She knew of my promises not, and agrees to them anyway. “Come here, dear.” I draw her in close, and she gives me a warm hug. “Elizabeth, I am heading to The Tower. I pray they allow me to see him. I need to reassure my father that we are prepared to carry forward.” My wife gently weeps, and I wipe her tears. “Wait here, love. After he goes to God, we need to ride out.”  How will I find the words? How do I look them in the eyes, without breaking in two? My heart bleeds, my stomach turns, and my soul blackens at the thought of what I must do. Oh my God, give me strength. This situation is hopeless all but for Your benevolent intervention.

As I enter The Tower, all eyes are upon me, and Sir William Kingston accompanies me to father’s cell. The man looks near to meet his maker, prematurely aged by the dampness and death of this place. “This must be quick, Gregory. Within the hour, the execution will commence. I pray the ax falls swift and true, though nothing goes easy for your father.” Kingston is right, far more so than he even knows. Low born, my father worked exhaustively and clawed his way up to the power he held so close to His Majesty. Now stripped of all titles, he is low once again. Was it all worth it? Most would say no, but they know him not… they know his life, his dreams, his love for his family not. All they see is the monster in their mind created by the hate of his enemies, not the man I know, not the man I love. More the pity.  The sound of the lock unbolting churns in my mind as Sir Kingston opens the door, and I look over. There he is, the man who molded me, raised me as any a father could, unshaven, disheveled, his eyes circled black from lack of sleep. Sir Kingston remains, so all hope of speaking freely is gone. I walk towards him, and my father hugs me close.

I look at my father in the eye, and near tears say gently, “I will keep all my promises, father, from this moment forward.”

My father, the man I thought the strongest man in Christendom, nods meekly. “Thank you, Gregory.” He takes off his gold chain and band from beneath his shirt, and hands to me. “You know.”

I look in my hand, and recognize immediately what was handed to me. ‘Tis my mother’s wedding band.  “Yes, father.”

My father places his dirty hand on gently my face and says quietly, “Be strong, Gregory. Stay away from court, and have courage.”

As I nod at my father, Sir Kingston places his hand on my shoulder. “It’s time, Gregory. Go on down to Tower Hill.” As I attempt to hug my father, Sir Kingston pulls me way, “Now Gregory.” I follow his commands. What choice do I have? As I exit out to Tower Hill, my heart freezes. The scaffold lay in the center, with people crowded all about it, pushing forward, with a sickening gleeful desire to see the deed done. Obviously, His Majesty desires to make an example of my father, as a more public death could not be imagined.  A guard escorts me down to the front, and I stand between the only two friends to my father in this hellish place, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and Sir Thomas Wyatt. I look back, and see him, his hands chained as if there was any chance on escape, being pulled through the masses. People spit, jeer and pull at him. Behind me, I hear Norfolk and Surrey laughing, as if those bastards have some magical power of avoiding a similar fate. My eyes burn, and tears come. As my father climbs the stairs to the scaffold, I become a little weak at the knees, and Dearest Thomas Cranmer grabs a hold of me.

Thomas Cromwell:  I am racked with fear, but I will show these bastards not. I try to calm my nerves and look out at the crowd, all jeering, many screaming for the executioner to move forward before I have made my peace with His Majesty and with God.  Is she here? No, God willing she will know not until I’m gone. I look over and see my son, and nod to him and His Grace, who is holding onto Gregory with all his might. Thank God for him, making sure my son does not collapse in from of these bastards… my dearest friend in this life, my only friend that knows all. With them I see that gentlest of men, whose words will live on to eternity. I cry out, “Gentle Wyatt ~~ Good Bye ~~ Pray for me!” Oh my, I should have said nothing. The pour gentle soul is  now crying. I try and reassure this blessed poet. “Do not weep for if I were no more guilty than you were when they took you, I should not be in this pass”.

I take a deep breath and begin…  “I am come hether to dye, and not to purge my self, as maie happen, some thynke that I will, for if I should do so, I wer a very wretche and miser: I am by the Lawe comdempned to die, and thanke my lorde God that hath appoynted me this deathe, for myne offence: For sithence the tyme that I have had yeres of discrecion, I have lived a synner, and offended my Lorde God, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgevenes. And it is not unknowne to many of you, that I have been a great traveler in this worlde, and beyng but of a base degree, was called to high estate, and sithes the tyme I came thereunto, I have offended my prince, for the whiche I aske hym hartely forgevenes, and beseche you all to praie to God with me, that he will forgeve me. O father forgeve me. O sonne forgeve me, O holy Ghost forgeve me: O thre persons in one God forgeve me. And now I praie you that be here, to beare me record, I die in the Catholicke faithe, not doubtyng in any article of my faith, no nor doubtyng in any Sacrament of the Churche.* Many hath sclaundered me, and reported that I have been a bearer, of suche as hath mainteigned evill opinions, whiche is untrue, but I confesse that like as God by his holy spirite, doth instruct us in the truthe, so the devill is redy to seduce us, and I have been seduced: but beare me witnes that I dye in the Catholicke faithe of the holy Churche. And I hartely desire you to praie for the Kynges grace, that he maie long live with you, maie long reigne over you. And once again I desire you to pray for me, that so long as life remaigneth in this fleshe, I waver nothyng in my faithe.”  Source: Edward Hall

Thomas Cramner: Oh Thomas, faithful to his death, Our Lord will welcome him. I whisper to Gregory, “Your father quotes the Niceen Creed, as did Luther, and refers to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Most of these heretics know what he speaks of not.”

Gregory Cromwell: I am frozen in fear of what comes next, but I find the words I feel my father would share. “Ah, yes. I pray you are careful, Your Grace. Wait, be patient. Your time will come. We need quiet reformists who wait for opportunity, not dead martyrs.”

Thomas Cranmer: I nod. Gregory is right. I need to wait for a better day. It will come, if not with His Majesty than later with his son. I look to Thomas, and our eyes lock. I mouth to him, us so used to hushed tones, I know he’ll hear my message clear. “I’ll carry on. I promise.”

Man From Crowd: “Kill the heretic! Spike his head! Death is not good enough for the likes of him!”

Crowd: A wave of chants flow through the crowd. “Kill him! … Kill him! … Kill him! …  Kill him! … Kill him!”

Thomas Cromwell: I look out at the crowd. There they are, my judge, jury and executioners, Nolfolk, Gardiner and Rich. They stand smugly, Norfolk laughing as the crowd chants, Gardiner and Rich snickering. I glare them down cold and then walk up to the man paid to do the deed. I hand him his payment of crowns, and state, Pray, if possible, cut off the head with one blow, so that I may not suffer much.” 

Gregory Cromwell: I pray silently. “God, give my father strength. Give me strength. Take him home, with you. All he ever did was for His Majesty’s glory, for your glory. As my father walks up to the block, and kneels before it, Sir Wyatt, His Grace and I kneel. I quickly look about to see if this will be a respectful death. No, most remain standing, an insult to my father and all he stood for. My eyes burn through the tears.

Thomas Cranmer: As I kneel, I look down and begin praying. I can’t watch this. I just can’t.  “I AM the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die. KNOW that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another. HE brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.” Source: Book of Common Prayer.

Thomas Cromwell: As I kneel at the block, in my mind in deadening silence. Instead, visions of my life pass through my mind… my life with her, my life with them.   If she speaks truth, we will be eternally joined. God make it so.  Before I lay my head on the block, I pray earnestly, “O Lord Jesu! which art the only health of all men living, and the everlasting life of them which die in thee, I, wretched sinner, do submit myself wholly unto thy most blessed will; and being sure that the thing cannot perish which is committed unto thy mercy, willingly now I leave this frail and wicked flesh, in sure hope that thou wilt, in better wise, restore it to me again at the last day, in the resurrection of the just. I beseech thee, most merciful Lord Jesu Christ! that thou wilt, by thy grace, make strong my soul against all temptations, and defend me with the buckler of thy mercy against all the assaults of the devil. I see and acknowledge that there is in myself no hope of salvation, but all my confidence, hope, and trust, is in, thy most merciful goodness. I have no merits nor good works which I may allege before thee. Of sins and evil works, alas! I see a great heap; but yet, through thy mercy, I trust to be in the number of them to whom thou wilt not impute their sins; but wilt take and accept me for righteous and just, and to be the inheritor of everlasting life. Thou, merciful Lord! wast born for my sake; thou didst suffer both hunger and thirst for my sake; thou didst teach, pray, and fast for my sake; all thy holy actions and works thou wroughtest for my sake; thou sufferedst most grievous pains and torments for my sake: finally, thou gavest thy most precious body and thy blood to be shed on the cross for my sake. Now, most merciful Saviour! let all these things profit me, that thou freely hast done for me, which hast given thyself also for me. Let thy blood cleanse and wash away the spots and foulness of my sins. Let thy righteousness hide and cover my unrighteousness. Let the merits of thy passion and blood-shedding be satisfaction for my sins. Give me, Lord, Thy Grace!, that the faith of my salvation in thy blood waver not in me, but may ever be firm and constant: that the hope of thy mercy and life everlasting never decay in me: that love wax not cold in me; and finally, that the weakness of my flesh be not overcome with the fear of death. Grant me, merciful Saviour! that when death bath shut up the eyes of my body, yet the eyes of my soul may still behold and look upon thee; and when death bath taken away the use of my tongue, yet my heart may cry and say unto thee, Lord! into thy hands I commend my soul; Lord Jesu I receive my spirit. Amen.”  Source: Foxe’s Book of Protestant Martyrs 195. Thomas Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell: I lay my head on the block, close my eyes with only thoughts of her, of them, and await my fate. Out of nervousness, I open them once more. Tears come as I look upon a woman right before me, draped and hidden in her long black cape, just as when I met her first. I mouth silently, “I love you, always.” Our eyes lock, and with her strength filling me, I find my courage and hold firm.

Gregory Crowmell: “Oh my god, nooooo!

Thomas Wyatt: Though stunned, my body shocked, my stomach churning as the executioner repeatedly completes his office, blood spewing,  I catch poor Gregory as he faints. A kindness from God, he missed most.

Thomas Howard: Oh how fitting, it’s botched!! I elbow Gardiner, “So much for the merciful death, eh?” I listen to my son and smile widely. Who better with words than him? Surely not Cromwell’s man, Wyatt.

Henry Howard: I look on smugly, the common base-born bastard dead at last. “Now is the false churl dead, so ambitious of others’  blood. These new erected men would, by their wills, leave no noble man a life. Now he is stricken with his own staff!” Source: “Thomas Cromwell,” by Geoffrey Robertson.

Thomas Cranmer: My heart breaks in two, my soul torn asunder. God, why? Why so hard for him? My thoughts are jarred as a caped woman collapses to the ground before the scaffold, wailing pitifully. God tells me. I hear Him clear. “Rush to her, now, Thomas before the heretics. Bring her home, and I’ll bring him.”

~~~~~~~~~~ FADE TO BLACK ~~~~~~~~~~

Note: All text in italics above are direct historical quotations, sourced when appropriate.

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The pillar perished is whereto I leant,

Whereon the strongest stay of mine unquiet mind—

The like of it no man again can find,

From east to west, still seeking though he went: always;

To mine unhap! for hap away hath rent misfortune fortune;

Of all my joy the very bark and rind;

And I, alas, by chance am thus assigned;

Dearly to mourn till death do it relent. keenly;

But since that thus it is by destiny,

What can I more but have a woeful heart—

My pen in plaint, my voice in woeful cry, lamentation;

My mind in woe, my body full of smart,

And I my self, my self always to hate;

Till dreadful death do ease my doleful state?

~~ Sir Thomas Wyatt ~~

“Historia Richardi Tertii…” Saint Thomas More — 7 February, 1478 to 6 July 1535

July 6, 2014 in Beth von Staats (REVELATION), Tudor Y Writer's Group, Wars of the Roses by Beth von Staats

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Richard III

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Men use, if they have an evil turn, to write it in marble; and who so doth us a good turn, we write it in dust.

— Saint Thomas More, History of King Richard III 

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Sir Thomas More

Here at Chelsea, I find my refuge. Now resigned from His Grace’s service, I find my peace. This evening I entertain my dear friend, Bishop John Fisher. I need to be near men of like mind, like conscience, and like values. The stench of court is overwhelming, the corruption raised to the very right and left of the King, the devilry all around him, like a thick, dense fog. I raise my goblet in toast and smile. “Fortune changes with character, dear friend. Fortune often changes with character.”

The Bishop nods back with a smile. I pause and reflect a moment. “So what do you think? I wrote that years ago, and yet only my dear Erasmus and now you have laid eyes upon it. My heart bleeds infinitely as although unfinished, it foretells our sorry state.”

Bishop John Fisher

Sir Thomas More, such a learned man, such a wise man, such a Godly man. I fear we will martyr together, along with my dearest Maid of Kent, yet I pray if God’s will, it be done to celebrate His glory, to celebrate our beloved Bishop of Rome, for in this realm Satan curses them both. Here at Chelsea, with this man’s gentle wisdom and his loving family, I feel our Virgin Mary close, so close my heart fills with love for her. I hold up the parchments along with my goblet of ale. “Thomas, Historia Richardi Tertii is magnificent, though damning… and aye, yes, much vision it provides. I trust the words on the parchment were written with divine intervention.”

Sir Thomas More:

I look to the fire, my mind full. Free finally to speak my conscience with a man I trust, I venture, “Your Grace, you are too kind.”

I decide to lighten the mood. God knows we both need it. “Did you hear Cardinal Pole’s latest missive?” The Bishop shakes his head no. “He declares Cromwell the ‘Emissary of Satan’. His Eminence speaks truth.”

We both laugh lightly, and I say in all seriousness as I point to the parchments, “Can you imagine what the King’s Secretary would do with that retelling of the sinfulness of the child killer, the monster King Richard the Third and the corrupt men around him? The man would crucify me, nail me straight to the cross. Cromwell is so full of himself, the man would think this all be an allegory of dear Harry, the sinful Archbishop and him.”

Bishop John Fisher

I snicker and nod in agreement. “Yes, I fear so. Best this be well hidden, good man. Your commentary on the failures of kingship, the corruption inherent in nobles and the clergy to gain advantage, your profession that the people need reign in truth by Parliament, is damning. Power corrupts, and absolute power especially so, I dare say.”

I point to the parchments. “You lay that bare here. ‘The lamb is given to the wolf’.”

I lay the parchments down on my lap and sigh deep. “I will never take the oaths, Thomas. A king supreme over God’s clergy as if God himself? Never. ‘Tis devilry personified.”

Sir Thomas More

I rise and stoke the fire, speaking as I do. “Me either, Your Grace, but it best we comment on our opinions not. Then by law we should be safe, but we will not I do fear. His Majesty and Cromwell make the laws or change the laws to suit their purpose. What be law today be treason tomorrow.”

I turn, look at Bishop Fisher, anxiety suddenly filling me whole. “Cromwell and the Archbishop, they are like King Richard’s secret second council, but spinning their evil web for all to see, His Majesty stuck within it, like an angry wasp. We will be stung, and stung deep, either by their attacks on the Holy Maid of Kent, God keep her — or their insistence all take an oath that the King is now God Himself.”

I take a deep breath, and rest back into my favorite chair, worn thin. “I am ready to martyr if need be, but my family suffers at the thought of it, my Alice wailing at every turn. Only my dear Margaret understands me, Lord God bless her. It is with she I will trust those parchments, no one else. If there ever be a day it is safe to promulgate, my Margaret knows to do so.”

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King Edward V of England and Richard, Duke of York

King Edward V of England and Richard, Duke of York

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Bishop John Fisher

“I will pray for you all, dear friend. I have no family I need so worry, just my conscience.  Though God’s will is clear, you suffer more. May the Virgin Mary protect you all through these days of misery.”

I draw a deep breath and drink some ale, my throat parched. “Thomas do listen. The Archbishop, he knows how close I am with the Holy Maid of Kent, how I revere her and the priests that so take charge of her care, but you have been more cautious in your dealings. I suggest you keep quiet. What Lord God knows, they need not know.”

Sir Thomas More

I smile awkwardly, my full truth known but to me, the Maid and God. “Aye, the Archbishop is a two headed serpent, good man. As he burned the heretic Frith for denying the presence, a sin even obvious to him, so Canterbury will burn our beloved Maid. Anyone who oversteps his arbitrary mark, heretic or God’s messenger, is doomed.”

Bishop John Fisher

I drink some ale and ponder his words of Canterbury. “As I read of Queen Elizabeth on these parchments, may she rest with the angels, I wondered why she did so allow the Cardinal with the care of her sons? Was she too trusting? Did she lack judgment? Was she blinded somehow, leading to a poor twist of fate? A quandary, yes, a quandary.”

I pause, and then continue. “And, was His Eminence King Richard’s unwitting dupe? Or as Archbishop Cranmer is for King Henry, his knowing accomplice?” I sigh. “You leave many questions unanswered, dear friend, but this much of our current plight is clear. The Archbishop’s treatment of our rightful Queen Catherine and the Princess Mary is of Satan. May his heresy be laid bare and burnt out from him.”

I cross myself, and dearest Thomas does likewise. “God make it so.”

Sir Thomas More

I nod and rub my the crucifix around my neck, so long there ’tis worn thin. “Yes, God make it so. Burn the heresy out, I do pray.”

I say pointedly, “The Archbishop, the Lord Chancellor, Wiltshire, and Cromwell — they are fools, more so than the bonny Will Somers. As I wrote to you, ‘If the lion knew his own strength, hard were it for any man to rule him.’ Your Grace, the lion now roars. So long as he keeps the love of the people, Harry will stomp his way across this blessed realm, killing all we know as dear. I blame the heretics for turning him, the pretend queen, the Archbishop and Cromwell most pointedly — a whorish concubine, a chaplain of Luther, and a low born rogue — all Satan’s clergy.”

Bishop John Fisher

“Your speak truth, dear man. Satan’s clergy indeed.”

I attempt to rise, my gout aching to my bones as I do. Thomas rushes to me, guiding me to my feet. I place my hand on his shoulder to steady myself and speak plain.”Thomas, I grow frail. Perhaps the Saints will intercede, God calling me home before the henchman, eh?”

He nods, and rests his head for a moment on my shoulder, as a son to his father. “I do need your help to find my courage. Pray for me, Thomas. I fear I will waver. I wish to die in my bed, truth be told.”

Sir Thomas More

I place my hands on the shoulders of this dear and holy man of God. “May we find the simple and innocent grace of children, the simple and innocent grace of the boy King and the blessed imp Duke — and with all humility, may we move forward, as God’s lesson in conscience, God’s lesson in His ultimate truth.”

—– Fade To Black —–

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This video focusing on the life and martyrdom of Saint Thomas More is part of a video series from Wordonfire.org. Father Robert Barron comments on subjects from modern day culture from a Roman Catholic perspective. For more information and videos visit http://www.wordonfire.org/

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NOTE:  The History of King Richard III, though unfinished, is widely considered to highlight Saint Thomas More’s veiled views of the perils of excessive power and political corruption. More “historical fiction” than “accurate history”, this work greatly influenced the writing of William Shakespeare. To read “Historia Richardi Tertii” click here: http://www.thomasmorestudies.org/docs/Richard.pdf

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St_Thomas_More__card_ (600x488)
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Tribute to Queen Anne Boleyn: Piratesse4 Videos by Mercy Alicea Rivera

May 10, 2014 in 2014 May Tribute to Queen Anne Boleyn, Hall of Crowns (Mercy Rivera), Tudor Y Writer's Group by Mercy Rivera

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Mercy Alicea Rivera, QAB's Queen Anne Boleyn Representative

Mercy Alicea Rivera, QAB’s Queen Anne Boleyn Representative, Puerto Rico, USA

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Queen Anne… Her Golden Day

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Sadness and Memories: Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth Tudor

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Alma Perdida (Ana Bolina)

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19 of May (Tribute to Anne Boleyn)

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The Ghost and the King

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Beloved Mother (Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth Tudor)

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Holbein’s Greatest Masterpiece (Tudor Y Writer’s Group)

April 28, 2014 in 2014 May Tribute to Queen Anne Boleyn, Queen Anne Boleyn -- All Website Content, The Final Days of Queen Anne Boleyn, Tudor Y Writer's Group by ADMIN: Royal Squire

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King Henry VIII, by Hans Holbein the Younger

King Henry VIII, by Hans Holbein the Younger

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King Henry VIII 

I pace through my chamber like a frustrated lion, caged. I should be hunting, spending time with my sweet Jane. “God’s Blood Master Cromwell! Do you think sir that I keep you for what is easy? Must I do all myself?”

Even the Duke of Norfolk quails before my rages, but this lad from the smithy merely bows his head. I approach him, my spittle would spray into his eyes were he only to raise them. “I said all of them! Every sketch, every copy, every damnable trace of that treacherous woman!” He murmurs some assurance, and I turn away.

He raises his head and says, “Master Holbein…” I fling my finely wrought silver cup at the abomination on the wall as I turn and roar, “Enough! Tell Master Holbein he will have opportunity to paint my likeness again soon enough!”

Sweating in the warm spring air, I tug at my silks. Sitting heavily, I rub my leg. It is ulcerous again, damn doctors. Catherine knew a poultice, ah but she is gone too, the old harridan. Master Secretary begins again, “His Grace the Archbishop..”

I raise my hand, quieted at the thought of Cranmer, how heavy his heart is, and why not? To hear all this sins of that woman would weigh on anyone’s soul. “I will speak to the Archbishop myself. He must be made to see that it is right. That I am right. She wove her spells around him too, and we must bring him around.”

Cromwell is smiling, he too is fond of my Archbishop. “You talk to him to, Tom. Ah, Tom! My most devoted Cromwell, we will bring him around, won’t we? Surely? In time?”

I am exhausted. I am not the man I was three years ago. That witch and her treasonous lovers have seen to that. But now there is Jane. And soon it will be as if Anne Boleyn never existed. “Go now, Master Secretary. Do not tarry. See to this affair quickly, and quietly. And do not rest until it is done!”

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The Ambassadors, by Hans Holbein the Younger

The Ambassadors, by Hans Holbein the Younger

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Secretary Thomas Cromwell

I stand upon the spot I must to illuminate the spectacle. Underneath the two Frenchmen, the ambassadors who forever lurked upon the Queen’s favor, there it be — the damn skull, upon the flooring that Kings are crowned upon no less. That oddity was the Lady Anne’s idea, yes the Lady Anne. All titles stripped today at trial, the wench is just that, a woman who bedded His Majesty and gave him a bastard, just like her sister. Once she conjured up this insanity, His Grace chimed in. He always does. “Master Holbein, if Her Majesty insists on the skull, do at least hide it. ‘Tis of the devil.” Those two when together, the Archbishop and the Queen, forever made my head ache mighty, partners in crime I do swear. Their reformation? Feed every vagrant and urchin in Christendom. Noble yes, but the riches belong to the crown, how spent His Majesty’s pleasure. How was I to counsel him to part with riches so easily begot? Who do these two think I be? A wizard? Do they think I wave a mystical wand like Merlin to move the King’s mind? Good God, man. Get real. King Henry VIII knows his own mind. And now his pleasure be to erase the Lady Anne Boleyn from this earth, all signs of her gone. I think this painting can be salvaged, but the other — God forgive me, the masterpiece straight from God’s hand to Holbein’s — must go.

“Just paint the damn thing, Master Holbein. Many a crown to you if His Majesty favors. Mayhaps he will take you on as court artist.” Master Hans Holbein, he be a genius, God’s talents blessed upon him. His Majesty took one look at the two frogs in their finery standing there, the globes, the quadrant, the torquetem, the sundial, the Lutheran book — my idea that — the lute, His Grace’s crucifix from Cambridge, and even the damn skull, and did hire the brilliant man from Augsburg just like that. “My devoted Tom, call that man to court. I want a portrait just as this be, with my Queen big with my heir in her belly and me in my finest cloth of gold. Go now, no tarrying good man.”

The portrait, the most beautiful portrait ever painted in Christendom, do we really have to burn it? My God, sinful that. The portrait of the Frenchmen hanging over yonder be a sketch in comparison. Well I be heading to hell in any case says the Bishop of Rome, so best be me do the deed — but how do I tell His Grace? I cannot allow he first learn from the King. The man be prone to tears, and best they not fall upon His Majesty. The letters from Master Morice, they tear at mine heart that His Grace suffers, riddled with heartbreak, riddled with guilt, riddled with shame. Need I go to Lambeth to break this gently? Mayhaps so. Yes the man is a quandary at times, but at court we really do just have each other. There be no one else I trust save His Grace and Sadler, and if he be smart, after Morice, there be best no one beyond me. God, if anyone smells his Lutheran bed warmer be his wife and not merely his favorite lay, the man’s head will roll same as those that shall in the morn’.

As I head out to the docks, I look upon His Majesty’s barges. Yes, it still stings. The Lady Anne gifted His Grace a beautiful barge upon his consecration. She gifted him prayer books, gold chalices, a jeweled cross on a heavy gold chain, even a necklace for his bed warmer. Does the Lady Anne know? Did he trust her with that? Mayhaps, she would hold it close — for him. The Lady Anne always did like him better them me. Always studying scripture together, reading Tyndale together, joking together, laughing together, praying together, supping together, and His Majesty never did bat an eye. Truthfully he had no need to. His Grace does love the Lady Anne — not in a romantic way, as his cherishes his wife, but more like a kindred spirit. In all ways spiritual, they think as one. I was out numbered on that, well, until His Majesty and I, who in all ways governance think as one, decided the Lady Anne must go.

The ebb and flow of the barge, rowers in unison pushing us all down the Thames, brings me back, yes back to the creation of the exquisite portrait, yes back to a time when His Majesty loved her, yes back to a time when all seemed to be going as planned. My mind is full of them, Master Holbein, His Majesty, His Grace, and the Lady Anne…

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A Replica of King Henry VIII's Barge

A Replica of King Henry VIII’s Barge

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King Henry VIII

The king is in high spirits today.”Good Day Master Secretary! Master Holbein! Shall we set this affair in motion?” We bow, and he quickly raises us up.”Where is the queen? Trying yet another gown, I’ll warrant. No matter, there is something I would discuss with you before she arrives.”

Retrieving a small box from one of his gentleman, he remembers something, “Norris, go fetch me my father’s dragon, you know the one, the silver one from my chamber. I would have it in this portrait.”

Turning back , he smiles conspiratorially, “Now, gentlemen, I know that the queen has been forever changing her mind about her jewels, so I have had something new prepared for her.” Opening the box, he beams,” See how the table diamond in the center and the emeralds catch the light?’

He turns serious a moment ,”We must do all we can to please her in this. Anything she wishes, just do it. The fancies of a woman with child can be quite capricious! Still, she is carrying your prince, and I will not have her upset.”

Extending his royal hand, he addresses the artist, “Master Holbein, I have this ring that my father wore in his likeness. I would like it quite visible, a symbol of the past here in this portrait of the future.” And again, his good mood emerges, shaking his finger in mock reproach.

“Master Cromwell! I see your stack of papers, sir! Oh no, so this is your plan! To hoist your business upon me while I am trapped in pose!”

Secretary Thomas Cromwell

Master Holbein, oh how he humors me. The man gives me a glare, his opinion of the King’s command made plain. He then walks up to His Majesty and takes the gaudy ring, hovers over the table set with cloth of silver adorning it, and plops the thing willy-nilly. As he fumbles around sorting out where to place the accumulating barrage of special trinkets, I nod my head to acknowledge the King’s chide and smile broadly. “Why yes, Majesty. Sign and stamp the parchment towards the end, and I be Duke of Wellington, just like that.”

We both laugh at such a silly thought, and even the ever serious Master Holbein snickers, the dog. I add… “Yes Majesty, the last parchment anoints Will Somers Bishop of Pembrokeshire. What say you sign these, and I be off then?”

King Henry VIII

“Pembrokeshire you say? What says his Grace to that? I can see that you have me pinned down, Master Secretary. I suppose we can do some work, but the queen and I are composing a sonnet together, and I fear her wrath far more than yours!”

His face lights up as he spies his beloved, “Oh! there she is now! Anne, sweeting! Your beauty outshines the sun my dear! Come, see what I have for you!”

Secretary Thomas Cromwell

Sweetling? I hold back a moan, just barely. His Majesty is brilliant, but the Queen’s manner be far from pleasing. As she approaches, the ever present maids in tow, I bow deeply in respect. I am good at that, bowing and removing my hat to the Lords and Ladies with royal blood — and the Boleyns. They know who really holds the winning hand. That’s all need be. The Queen replies with a glare and smug nod. What else be new? Does she forget who put her on the throne?  Whose pen made her reign law? I think not. Her dismissive treatment of me lays bare before all. I care not. After all, she is but a woman, and I be not my beloved Cardinal.

Anne, the Quene

As the queen enters, she smiles to her Lord and husband, “My darling… your words always touch my heart. I must say you look dashing and strong as always.”

Queen Anne looks at the table, and her eyes are lost in the magnificent jewels that are placed there. “My Love… it is not difficult to understand that those magnificent pieces are tokens of your love for me. I feel pleased…thank you my darling”.

Her Majesty carries a book in her hands, her illuminated prayer book. She passes the beautiful book to one of her ladies in waiting, Lady Wyatt. As soon as she takes the book from the Queen, both ladies smile to each other. After a nod from her Majesty, Lady Wyatt walks towards Cromwell. The Queen glares at him with pride, “There Master Cromwell. This is a token of my Faith to be preserved, and a symbol of our duty with this realm, to restore and keep the truth of God.”

Secretary Thomas Cromwell

I nod in acknowledgment and hand the exquisite prayer book to Master Holbein. “Do decide where you would like this placed good man.” He gives me the damn evil look of his in obvious annoyance. “Your Majesty, the prayer book is enchanting, as is your exquisite gown and jewelry.”

King Henry VIII

The king is like a child, pleased that he surprised the queen once again. His Majesty likes surprises, and of course, he delights in the sighs and coos of his wife. He beckons Norris, holding out his hands to receive the Tudor dragon. “Very good, Harry! Pray, did you encounter my Lord Archbishop?”

Norris murmurs something, and the king turns to ask,”Master Secretary, you did summon him like I commanded?” He nods affirmatively. “Good. He must be delayed then. If it were any other man, I would guess it is a woman who keeps him long so often.”

Setting the dragon on the table, the King glances around for his warship — yes, a warship. The Mary Rose, pride of his navy is to be included in this masterpiece of Tudor symbolism. “Please set the scene as you would see it Master Holbein.”

Secretary Thomas Cromwell

I laugh at the King’s words of the Archbishop. “Aye, yes Majesty. His Grace was summoned indeed. I do believe he gets caught up in his vestments rather than wenches.” We all laugh heartily at that, even the Queen.

Then, I need say this, as I know the King suffers much. “Majesty, I am touched by your tribute to your sister, our beloved Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk. I pray her health improves each night before I rest my head.”

His Majesty, nods. “I pray a’mighty too, my devoted Tom. I pray a’mighty, too.”

Master Holbein pokes me, the poignant moment interrupted, and murmurs in my ear, “This will cost you dearly for all these additions to the plan, Master Cromwell. I do not work for farthings.” Holbein then huffily heads back to arrange all the treasured items. Returning back to me, he whispers, “This not be what we agreed to. These people make my head throb.”

“Just do as they ask. You’ll have your crowns, ” I chide.

Anne, the Quene

Queen Anne is enjoying the moment, now standing beside her husband. She watches as the treasures to be immortalized in the painting are carefully arranged. “This for sure will be Master Holbein’s greatest masterpiece.  It will be something more than just a painting, for there is much of us in it… There will be profound meaning.”

The queen smiles then she looks with curiosity as the usher enters. When she sees who approaches after him, the Queen smiles again with more joy. “Finally, His Grace is here. Welcome… welcome.”

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer

His Grace, always in good spirits, bounds into the inner chambers with great pleasure. He bends a knee, and the Queen bids he rise. “Majesties, do forgive my tardiness. I came upon a poor urchin, so I prayed for and blessed the child.”

His Grace looks around the room, taking in the beauty of their Majesties’ finery and the treasures Master Holbein so oddly arranged. “The Lord is pleased, Majesties. Never have I seen such beauty.”

He peers over to Master Holbein. “This will be a masterpiece for the ages — from God’s hand to yours. Lord make it so.”

He smiles broadly, takes the Queen’s hand in his and gently kisses it. “Your beauty and grandeur will be set plain for all through the ages, dear friend — my consort to the greatest King in Christendom. God’s will be done.”

King Henry VIII

“Well met Your Grace! I want that you would bless this endeavor of ours. Call the eyes of God to the image of His will!”

From a pocket, King Henry produces a beautiful jeweled rosary.”‘T’was my mother’s,” he smiles, laying it reverently across the bow of his model ship.

The King is blind to the ironic glances between the rest of us. His Grace frowns slightly at the remnant of Papist superstition. Still, the King adored his mother. It is fitting. “Anything else? Are we ready?” His Majesty is impatient to begin, to be done and off hunting with Brandon, no doubt. “Shall we begin? Anne darling, have you nothing else to add? Only say it, my queen, and it shall be done.”

Anne, the Quene

The Queen gently takes the hand of her husband in hers and smiles to him. “Nothing else my love…all that means and represents us are already well presented.” After one glace of love and a smile, Queen Anne looks at Master Holbein with a smile on her face. “We are ready Master Holbein. We are under your guidance now.”

Secretary Thomas Cromwell

Master Holbein walks slowly over to His Majesty and motions with his hand with grand flair that the King stand just behind and aside a beautifully carved wooden chair. I stifle a laugh as His Majesty follows Holbein’s directive gesture as if commanded. “Like this Master Holbein?”

The artists shakes his head. “No! Move over just like this, Majesty,” he chides to my great entertainment. “There, very good.”

On cue, His Grace takes the Queen’s arm and guides her to the chair. Her maids brush back the flowing cloth of silver and cloth of gold gown so she may sit more comfortable. “Majesty, allow me to guide your way, ” says the Archbishop.

She looks to him and smiles warmly. “Thank you, Your Grace.”

Master Holbein commands once more. “Your Majesty, place your hand upon the Queen’s shoulder. Yes, just like that. Now, relax and stay as you are.”

His Grace comes back with me. The sight before us takes our breath away. He whispers, “My heart is full, Master Secretary. The Lord fills the room, fills them whole.” I nod in agreement. His Grace speaks truth.

King Henry VIII

“Wait! We have forgotten! My son will be head of his church as his father is! Your Grace, please, something of yours, it would be a great favor.”

The King loves Cranmer. The man can do no wrong. Never once has he born the brunt of a tirade, nor the icy cold of Henry’s displeasure. The king encourages, “If you would be so kind, Your Grace.”

Secretary Thomas Cromwell

His Grace bows at His Majesty, “You honor me, Your Majesty. I am touched.”

What is he doing? His Grace turns to me and says in quiet sincerity, “Your ring, Thomas. Please, good man.” I struggle to pull the thing off and hand it to him. His Grace, oh how he humbles me. He walks over to the table and looks at the display carefully. Gently he opens the Queen’s prayer book, finding the page of the scripture he so desires. Once satisfied, he rests my ring upon it.

Holbein murmurs, “I like that. I like it much.”

I snicker quietly, “That be Wolsey’s ring, good man.” Holbein laughs in his sleeve. “Does His Grace know?”

“Hush man, I will tell him later… after the portrait be done.” He laughs lightly. “Shhhh…. the Queen, she notices it not. Say nothing.”

We wait for the king to react. Holbein and I dare not breathe. The king loves Cranmer, and Wolsey was as a father to him before he fell.  “I know that ring. Thomas, your master is with us still sometimes, do you feel him?”

I glace at the Queen smugly, “Oh yes, Majesty. He is with us always. I learned all I do and all I not do from His Eminence.”

As if it were not he, but some other monarch who hounded my Lord Cardinal to his death, the king states, “It is good, very good. We are ready.”

Anne, the Quene

The Queen’s reply is a mere smile, one that is not of joy, but the smile that a Queen always gives in the name of duty rather than personal satisfaction. “What can I say? What pleases his majesty pleases me as well. We are indeed ready”.

Archbishop Thomas Cranmer

His Grace adds simply, “Bless the King and Queen of England and their heir growing strong, and grant your artistry flow through Master Holbein abundantly.”

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Thomas Cromwell, by Hans Holbein the Younger

Thomas Cromwell, by Hans Holbein the Younger

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Secretary Thomas Cromwell

“Master Secretary! Master Secretary!!!” I am startled upright by Ralph Morice, calling me as the barge is tied to the dock by Lambeth’s beautiful spring gardens.

“Good afternoon, Master Morice,” I say simply. He guides me off the barge and we begin walking through the gardens towards Lambeth Palace, the scent of irises whiffing through the light spring breeze.

“Do tell me, good man. How be His Grace?” I ask.

Ralph Morice places his hand on my arm, my cue to stop walking before entering the Palace. “He be distraught, Master Secretary. Thanks be to Lady Margarete. Her strength builds him so he can do what he must. His Grace pines for the Lady Anne, and he be dwelling on gaining His Majesty’s blessing to hear her last confession.”

“The King will allow it,” I offer. “His mind is set to destroy all signs of her, though. This morn’ I was commanded to arrange the destruction of all with her emblems, her gowns, her silver, her tapestries, even the two Holbein portraits… you know, the one of the Queen in the black velvet… and God forgive me, the masterpiece of them both.”

Morice looks back at me stunned, swallowing deep to compose himself. “That portrait be of God’s own hand, Master Secretary. To burn it is of Satan.” I nod in agreement.

“You came to tell him?” I nod again and offer, “I thought it best. His Majesty is in mind to, but let the tears flow before the King speaks his peace.” Looking to the ground in shame, I add, “The portraits are burned already, done before the Archbishop could talk me out of it, before talking me into what would risk us both. Reginald Pole calls me the Emissary of Satan. Mayhaps I am.”

Sketch by Hans Holbein the Younger

Sketch by Hans Holbein the Younger

“And what of the Archbishop’s Godchild? What then shall the child have of her mother?” Morice chides.

I open the rolled parchment from under my arm, nestled to keep it safe. “Here, Master Morice. I done brought this for His Grace to hold for Elizabeth. God forgive me, it be the best I could do. Guard it close, and God in heaven, keep it as secret as the Archbishop’s wife.”

“Lady Margarete thinks you a rouge, Master Secretary. His Grace knows different. I think him wise.”

~~~~ Fade To Black ~~~~

Written by: Beth, Cyndi and Mercy

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